Plenty of terrible things happen in this episode, but most of them are TO OUR EYES. It’s the penultimate one of the season, so I decided to go long and not skimp on the screen grabs, so that you can get the full flavor of the unique hell that is Squick, which is my new nickname for Huck and Quinn (their names, plus ewwwwww).
What you need to know off the top is that suddenly, it’s six days before the election. SIX DAYS. This show is wretched at the passage of time. It’s never clear when anything is happening, nor what season it is, and I think it’s deliberately vague specifically so they can pull a fast one like this and have us be like, “I… GUESS that’s… sure?” Shouldn’t there have been some concern in the last episode — whose events immediately preceded these — that they were a week away from the vote? It’s like the writers’ room didn’t think of it until it was too late.
In fact, the expression on my face for much of this episode was this one:
Our favorite Secret Service agent turned B-Ullshit spy actually ended up being a pretty boring plot twist, right? Nothing happened with that. Look at this man. He is hungry for Happenings. I bet HE knows how to kiss a woman without unhinging his jaw. I’m just saying.
When we left off, Jake Ballard had just grabbed Olivia by the throat and thrown her against a wall, because he’s enraged that she shut down B-Abusive, and I guess we’re supposed to think it’s super manly that he’s fine with hurling her around like a rag doll. This show is the classic example of wanting to have its cake and eat it, too. It’s trying to turn him into this tortured romantic hero, and yet also, he’s behaving like a Neanderthal assbag. See?
Wombouflage #29: Office supplies. Fitz and Cyrus are upset with Olivia for doing basically exactly what Fitz wanted her to do, because it turns out he retroactively really LIKED having a secret spy organization now that he knows it was trying to keep him from exploding. It is hard to fault him for that. I make a lot of decisions on a daily basis that boil down to the simple choice of not wanting to explode. However, in all this, Jake savagely spits that Olivia sexed all his secrets out of him and he can’t believe that all it took to bring down B-Urberry was “a quick tug on a zipper.” He says that accusatorily at her, even though technically he is the one who allowed said zipper to be tugged and then left his phone by the bed. By the OPPOSITE side of the bed, too, so that she didn’t have to reach across him to get it. I think Contrivance is in retrograde for him. Anyway, Fitz is not best pleased that Olivia pope’d Jake’s ballard.
So Fitz calls in the big gun: Rowan Pope. Jake is furious, because he is not sure he can win a three-way junk measuring contest.
And for good measure, the Goon Squad shows up, case anyone needs to drill any holes in anything, or hang some pictures or whatever.
Jake is enraged that they’re letting Rowan finish this operation and not him, even though Rowan knows all the players, but also, Jake, if you cared that much, you would swallow your ego and STAY. (In fairness, he does still help later, but not before acting like a whiny toddler in the vein of Fitz before him.) He tells Olivia that she ought not have faith in her father simply because they’re blood related, because he will draw her in and then POUNCE and bite her and that’s how people end up in torture holes. Liv is like, “… Eh, I’m going to play the odds. Plus a torture hole sounds like a decent vacation spot right now and on Trip Advisor it actually has three stars.”
This non-speaking extra has been paid to die. Senator Hightower, we never knew ye. (Did we?)(Who cares.) But it provides an opportunity for Sally Langston to give a eulogy that she can turn into a campaign stop. Fitz suspects they need to pounce on this and either meet or beat her to the podium of grief…
… and Drunk Mellie is like, “WHEEEEEE, sure, I’ll stand by my effing MAN,” slurring like an extremely blotto banshee, to the concern of, unfortunately, nobody.
Fitz knows he should go and deliver the eulogy himself, but he also knows Olivia and the B-Asketcase situation will not allow it. Cyrus figures he should ignore that and do whatever the hell he wants. Because if he doesn’t win the election, then James’s death and the sins of Defiance and all those other things will have been in vain. Cyrus is forgetting that if Fitz is blown to pulpy smithereens, he can’t win the election EITHER, although… well, stranger things have surely happened; I guess America might throw some pity votes at Bitsgerald Grant. He might be a better leader that way.
This is where I really thought the terrorists were dumb for not putting the bomb at the White House, though (spoiler: It’s not at the White House). Because they obviously knew or even planned for Olivia to get wind of shenanigans — Mama Pope even killed their spy — and of COURSE the natural reaction to that would be for Liv to control Fitz’s comings and goings and thereby tell him to stay home, and then they could blow him to smithereens in peace, after Shonda came up with a reason to evacuate the people I don’t hate, like their random third child and Ethan and I guess Mellie (so she can run for president) and maybe Cyrus. Except, actually, if they really thought a terrorist was out to kill the president and they didn’t know WHERE or HOW he would strike, wouldn’t Fitz be in a bunker somewhere? Doesn’t he even HAVE a bunker that they’ve USED before? I remember him and Liv and Mellie strategizing in it when they were going to go public about her being his mistress. Let’s get bunkered, people.
The scenes with Carlo Rota as the Russian bomber are so painful. Every line they give him is basically like, “PLEASE TO KILL DIRTY AMERICANS WITH BOMB HA HA HA,” and then in this one, he instructs Mama Pope in how to use a cell phone to set off the bomb. She’s all amazed that you can use these as remote detonators, even though by now she’s been wandering all over D.C. using burner phones, so I don’t know why we’re still acting like she doesn’t understand technology. However, she IS repeating her Terrorist Separates, so at least we know she’s not hanging out all day at the Tyson’s Corner Mall.
These three are discussing how to find Mama Pope’s bomb supplier. Charlie wants to go to blah to the yada-yada; Huck wants to find out what his known hangouts are and then stake them out. It’s just a backdrop for a scene that’s REALLY about them both wanting to bang Quinn, and her refusing to take sides, because she doesn’t want to admit that she wants to go Huck herself. I don’t blame her. NEVER admit that.
Wombouflage #30: EVEN MORE boxes of files, none of which are really necessary because everything they’re doing involves computers.
Wombouflage #31 A lamp, a chair, and a forgiving camera angle.
Fitz tells Olivia that he wishes she’d stop sleeping with Jake, and he says that they way anyone else would say, “Please don’t leave the toilet seat up,” or, “Please stop chewing on my pen caps.” He also asks Olivia the Campaign Manager for permission to go to the funeral, and Olivia the Girlfriend denies it, pointing out that if he dies, she will have no reason for being. (More or less.) So she decides to find a way to make the campaign come to him. Which… seriously, y’all, shouldn’t you have been talking about this hours ago?
Wombouflage #32: A monitor. Fitz does all his interviews from his chair in the White House, and NOWHERE in any of this has anyone thought to point out that PERHAPS the way to explain away your campaign rally absences is to say, “I would love to come, and it’s very NICE that your sitting vice president feels like she can blow off the country to give speeches, but I AM BUSY GOVERNING RIGHT NOW”? It might not work, but at least it’d be SOMETHING. I am constantly squawking at Fitz to stop sitting on his ass waiting for everyone else to do everything, and I know it gets old, but ugh.
Charlie and Quinn can’t find Sebastian Roche, a.k.a. Mama Pope’s bomb maker. But you know who does? Huck.
He comes into OPA and drops his captive on the floor like a big old human mic.
And Charlie’s facial expression is PRICELESS and Quinn’s is lusty, because she’s turned on by it, which is a HUGE WHAMMY as far as I’m concerned.
Let’s get this over with: Paul Adelstein heard a rumor that Mellie asked the White House doctor for a paternity test for her son. So he uses Jerry’s girlfriend to get a semen sample — she ACTUALLY brings him a used condom in a bag — in exchange for getting her into Harvard and Yale. OPA manages to get ahead of the story… get on top of it… squash it… gross, there are too few ways to say this that don’t involve icky imagery. Abby fakes the paternity test so that Paul and Sally Langston think it matches and that the scandal was a dead end, and we can all move on from ever having thought about any of this, or the fact that Paul Adelstein used the words “man chowder,” which are both extremely evocative and clever and also beyond nauseating.
Liv susses out that MELLIE is the smoking paternity-test gun. When confronted, Drunk Mellie rants and raves and roars and growls and tips around the room, because… look, I think Bellamy Young is very good in all of her other scenes, but she plays drunk with the subtlety of a Mack Truck that’s just been cast in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Basically, she hates Fitz for making her give up Jon Tenney, and wanted to lash out at him, so she dropped the paternity bomb to the White House physician knowing that he/she would not be subtle about it. She spits nails and speaks in tongues and then finally says it’ll be a relief because she doesn’t want to be chained to Big Jerry anymore. This stuns Liv, who had thought Jon Tenney was the father, and correctly interprets the circumstances. Mellie hates having Liv’s pity but now needs Liv’s help. So I guess… she has her helpity, which is when you pityingly help someone? Sure.
Also, this show has put her in this exact sweater in another color two other times. Can we shop somewhere other than Talbot’s for Miss Mellie? I have nothing against that place, but if Michelle Obama gets Jason Wu… I mean, the First Lady of the United States, PARTICULARLY on TV, should have more Prada than Olivia Pope.
There is a scene near the end of the episode in which Olivia gives her a paternity test, having told her she’d arrange it properly. It’s from the same lab that did the faked one. When Mellie opens it, she looks — to me — to be relieved, but it’s left up in the air. My question is: Would Olivia have done a real paternity test, or would she have given Mellie the faked one that confirms Jerry is Fitz’s son, just to keep the boat from rocking so hard they anyone falls off before the election?
Remember that time Jake didn’t murder David Rosen? So does, Jake, and so does David Rosen. Jake is miffed that Big Dave took down B-Lotto when he expressly didn’t put a bullet hole in his face so that they could work together on the side of good. And so Jake blackmails David Rosen… to do MORE good. He wants David to crack into Super Secret Fake Software Database and use likeness-seeking software to find where Mama Pope has been going, so that he can beat Rowan Pope to the punch. And David Rosen is all trembly and nervous about helping him, because when you are faced with either doing something helpful to save the world from a terrorist attack OR being killed, it’s a really challenging decision. I mean, seriously, Jake’s idea is actually really good, and SPOILER, also accurate. Suck it up, David.
In which we learn that this man knows nothing about anything, and that he is — by Rowan Pope’s admission — the only man that Mama Pope ever loved. Huck is permitted to interrogate him gently and with no use of power tools; Rowan’s method is to play Russian roulette with him while they get Mama on the phone, so that Sebastian Roche can beg and squeal for his life…
… and Mama Pope can be like, “Tell Olivia where she got her taste in coats, although mine are of course a much muddier color because my soul is dirty. Also, you can kill that guy.”
And so Mama Pope’s Terrorist Bang gets himself banged another way. This is actually a disgusting moment because they lingered on a shot of Abby cleaning him up, and they had brain matter coming out of his head that will turn me off strawberry preserves forever. Olivia is really horrified that someone is dead in her office, and I seriously had to stop for a second and go, “Really? NOBODY has died at Pope and Associates before?” It just seems like that should not be true. Also, there was a lot of heavy-handed “WHO IS HE DAD? WHO IS HEEEEEE” from Olivia, which had me concerned they were going to pull a “Sebastian Roche is your real father” switcheroo on us, which would have been super lame. I suppose it could still come, but it would have been much more tragic if she found out and THEN saw his brains falling out all over the floor. Oh, and also, David Rosen asks Abby for advice and she is like, “ARE YOU HIGH? DO WHAT JAKE WANTS AND DON’T DIE, AND ALSO MAYBE IT WILL BE USEFUL, AND ACTUALLY IT SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA AND WE SHOULD HAVE TRIED THAT BUT WE ARE IMBECILES.”I am editorializing a little in there.
Wombouflage #33: Throwpillows. Olivia and Jake have a sniffly conversation that’s full of their usual pushing and pulling and judging. Olivia tells him in no uncertain terms that she is in love with Fitz, but then, at Jake’s behest, admits that she did feel something the other night when she was spy-banging him. (I’m really into banging right now. I’m sorry. It’s just so satisfying to SAY. Or type. I’m going to make myself stop.) And that something she felt was BETRAYAL but also an orgasm.
Jake moons over her and decides, well, at least it’s a start. I am also noticing a pattern. Fitz killed a bunch of people when he blew up a plane; Jake shot James and has killed others as well. Fitz gets rough with Olivia a lot, usually during sex; Jake just threw her against a wall. And so what does she do? Tell him she has feelings for him. Olivia, it is with the greatest of understatement that I say: I do not agree with your man choices. Also, am I crazy, or does she know he killed James? Blowing up a plane because you were told it had a nefarious terrorist agenda is one thing; shooting your friend’s husband to keep him quiet is another. I guess Olivia’s taste is SO bad that she’s willing to trade up the murder ladder?
Also, Wonkusvision inexplicably makes an appearance. INSIDE HER HOUSE. WHERE THERE IS NO WINDOW. Not even the peephole would be looking at her from this angle. This ONLY MAKES SENSE IF YOU PRETEND YOU’RE LOOKING THROUGH GLASS. STOP IT. YOUR TOYS ARE DUMB.
Ahem. Wonkusvision is something that really smokes my hide, in case you hadn’t noticed.
In other news, America’s Wang has turned grey and limp because Fitz is not campaigning there, and it may be forced to elect Sally Langston. You have to enjoy that Governor Reston may or may not be up on murder charges right now, but his home state is still voting for him, because hey, who hasn’t shot their wife’s lover, AM I RIGHT.
Wombouflage #34: Chairs. Rowan Pope is impressed. He’s the opposite of McKayla Maroney. Rowan tells Olivia that if the bomb is in Defiance, where Fitz’s rally is going to be, then the only way to stop it is for Olivia to go there with him. Because Olivia is actually the only person in the world that Mama Pope loves, and she won’t push the button if Liv is on the dais. They hope. Olivia really wants to believe that her parents hold her in any kind of esteem at all — especially since they have both recently called her either the president’s whore, or the president’s maid, or both — so she basically laps this up in a way that makes me very sad. Olivia was more likable back when she had the really big hair.
Also, she’d better hurry, because Fitz is getting on Marine One right now and flying that sucker straight through a green-screen to the promised land.
Hi, Harrison. He is about to get tied up by Adnan Salif, and not in a sexy way. Someone in the comments suggested that he might have to die because the actor has so many off-set problems, and if that’s true, I hope ALL of Pope and Associates blows up and we start over with just Olivia and Abby and Lena Dunham.
See, THIS is the kind of stuff Bellamy Young does well. That is one hilarious glassy-eyed lady right there.
Maybe I just have higher expectations, but that looks like the SMALLEST, lamest rally, no? Couldn’t Scandal throw even a LITTLE money at this problem?
And in case you were wondering, Cyrus gets up so that Olivia can take his seat, because she makes it there in record time, presumably flying on the wings of righteousness. Given the rumors about her and Fitz, I feel like maybe NOT having Olivia sit next to Mellie would have been a shrewd idea, but I guess they need to make sure Mama Pope sees her sitting there and smiling and maybe about to incinerate. Also, they have paid Jon Tenney to be in this episode. Why on EARTH would they not have had him participating at this rally? Make HIM introduce Fitz, instead of the school principal. Get your money out of him before you kill him (not a spoiler, really).
Okay, I have dallied long enough. We’re going to need to get to the really disgusting part of the episode.
Oh, wait, sorry, that’s the wrong picture.
Much better. So, Quinn finds Huck in the parking lot at Pope and Associates, and the two of them open wide and try to simultaneously consume each other’s lips, because the only species they have ever seen make out before were some fish. I never, ever need to see these two kiss again, ever. I can’t remember any on-screen pairing ever being as much of a visual trainwreck as these two, and that’s even INCLUDING the possibility that the direction was to be a little off-kilter.
Then Quinn pushes Huck into admitting he wants to have sex with her, which involves her slapping him twice, and him making a MASSIVELY aroused face that I actually GOT and couldn’t bring myself to share with you because it was ten kinds of no, and then HE grabs HER face abusively because apparently Abby is the only person who’s allowed to have sex without bruising. Seriously, the show pretends for a second that Quinn is in charge, but then lets Huck dominate anyway. I genuinely want there to be an episode next season in which every single lady on the show makes every single sexual decision. JUST ONCE.
And Decision No. 1 will be NO MORE SPITTING — Huck, here, hocks a loogie on Quinn’s neck and then licks it off, which brings me to Decision No. 2: NO MORE LICKING. SHE IS NOT A POPSICLE. And Decision No. 3 will be no more of any of this, up to and including ripping off her tights so they can screw on the hood of a car whose logo carefully was not shown:
Excuse me, Huck, but did you not see the sign?
While these two loudly disobey the posted warnings, Mama Pope marches right past them and into the office, and tells Rowan to get her baby out of Defiance RIGHT NOW. At which point I thought, “She’s one step ahead of them and the bomb isn’t in Ohio at ALL.” Because that was too easy and also there was way too much time left in the episode.
Mama Pope is totally beating Olivia at her own coat game. Rowan also gives some lip about how this is going to be her last moment to watch TV as a free woman, which is exactly how you knew that this was about to happen:
My question is, exactly how long was Squick down there doing the Buick Shuffle, and why didn’t OLIVIA see them at it when SHE came in? They were RIGHT THERE. You know Mama Pope saw them thrashing and flapping around like copulating killer-dolphins. Anyway, they don’t resurface until after Olivia is already there cradling her bleeding father and blubbering that an ambulance is on the way. So our first cliffhanger is whether Rowan Pope will survive to organize all the paperwork in his Smithsonian office.
David and Jake figure out that, based on the comings and goings of Mama Pope, the bomb is at Senator Hightower’s funeral, and he did not die of natural causes. Cyrus promises to evacuate and warn the Secret Service, but then his evil hamster gets back on the Dirtbag Wheel and he realizes that if the church blows up, so does Sally Langston, thus becoming the crispy piggy of her own fervent sermonizing. And there will be nobody else left on the ballot to challenge Crispy Piggy 1.o’s presidency.
However, Fritz would ALSO explode, as would Paul Adelstein, neither of which is acceptable. I have long suspected Fritz was expendable because they maybe can’t afford him, although that is a huge shame and they should keep him, but ALSO Paul Adelstein is awesome and he brings a really amazing cocky energy, so … if they can find a way to let this whole thing go up in flames but save those two people, I’d be much obliged.
This man is pretty stoked, however. He tells Fitz that there is an issue with Hightower’s widow that is delaying the funeral by half an hour, so he makes Fitz practice the eulogy on him while he waits, waits, waits, for flaming death to engulf the ones Cyrus the Redeemer has deemed unworthy. Fitz is going to be pretty irritated if they engaged in voter fraud to win one election and then church-exploding to win another. Also, has Cyrus thought this through? Won’t Jake and David Rosen KNOW he didn’t alert anyone? Don’t we all think this cockamamie idea of his is a multi-headed serpent currently distracting him at face-level so its other head can wind around and chomp him in the bum?
Also, there is EXACTLY the amount of time on this bomb as one more episode of Scandal. Which is all we have. Cyrus may only have stalled Fitz for part of the time, so there’s plenty of minutes left for CYRUS to get himself blown up in a remorseful fit, or Mellie to call Fritz and ask him to sate her lady-yearnings, or Abby and Paul Adelstein to have sex in a limo outside the church, thereby saving him while David Rosen pulls up next t the smoking ruins of the church, with law enforcement, and finds them in there. I don’t know. I’m just projecting. We’ll know soon enough. SCANDAL.